Navigating Nutrient Needs While on the Pill: A Functional Medicine Perspective

Functional medicine March 12, 2024
What we’ll cover
  1. Understanding the Nutrient Impact
  2. Strategies for Addressing Nutrient Depletions
  3. The Functional Medicine Approach

Oral contraceptive pills, commonly known as “the pill,” play a significant role in many women’s lives, offering control over reproductive health and management of various medical conditions such as acne, endometriosis, irregular periods, fibroids, period pain, and PCOS. However, while these pills are highly effective in preventing pregnancy and addressing specific health issues, they can also impact the body’s nutrient absorption and utilization, leading to potential nutrient depletions.

Understanding the Nutrient Impact

The pill can affect your body’s levels of essential vitamins and minerals, leading to decreases in:

  • Folate (Folic Acid): Crucial for DNA synthesis and cell growth.
  • Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin): Supports cellular function and energy production.
  • Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine): Essential for nerve function, immune response, and blood sugar regulation.
  • Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin): Vital for cell DNA synthesis and energy production.
  • Vitamin C: Important for immune function and collagen formation.
  • Vitamin E: Promotes blood flow and protects against pathogens.
  • Magnesium: Needed for nerve function and blood pressure regulation.
  • Selenium: Supports reproduction, thyroid health, and DNA synthesis.
  • Zinc: Crucial for immune function and wound healing.

Strategies for Addressing Nutrient Depletions

Dietary Considerations

A nutrient-dense diet is foundational in offsetting the potential nutrient deficiencies caused by oral contraceptive use. Emphasizing a variety of minimally processed foods can support various aspects of health, including blood sugar regulation, cognitive function, energy production, gut health, heart health, hormonal balance, immune function, and weight management.

Food Sources for Depleted Nutrients

Incorporating specific foods into your diet can help replenish nutrients commonly depleted by the pill:

  • Folate: Asparagus, avocado, broccoli, spinach
  • Vitamin B2: Almonds, beef liver, eggs, mushrooms
  • Vitamin B6: Bananas, chickpeas, chicken, salmon
  • Vitamin B12: Beef, clams, nutritional yeast, yogurt
  • Vitamin C: Citrus fruits, kiwifruit, strawberries
  • Vitamin E: Hazelnuts, peanuts, sunflower seeds
  • Magnesium: Cashews, chia seeds, spinach
  • Selenium: Brazil nuts, cottage cheese, sardines
  • Zinc: Oysters, pumpkin seeds, turkey


Supplementation can be crucial when diet alone may not meet all your nutritional needs. It’s critical to consult with a functional medicine practitioner or integrative healthcare provider before adding supplements to your routine. They can help monitor your nutrient levels and recommend appropriate supplementation to ensure your body receives the nourishment it needs.

The Functional Medicine Approach

Functional medicine emphasizes a holistic view of health, understanding that everything we put into our bodies can affect our well-being. If you’re on the pill, it’s important to be mindful of its potential to deplete essential nutrients and take proactive steps to maintain your nutritional balance. By focusing on a nutrient-rich diet and considering supplementation when necessary, under the guidance of a healthcare professional, you can support your body’s health and well-being while benefiting from the contraceptive and therapeutic effects of oral contraceptive pills.

Remember, your health journey is unique; what works for one person may not work for another. Engage with a functional medicine practitioner to tailor a health plan that meets your individual needs and ensures your body is nourished and balanced.